Wildlands Partnership

Photo by Brendan Wiltse

Northeast Wilderness Trust is joining forces with local land trusts to protect more wilderness across the Northeast. Eligible land trusts are compensated by the Wilderness Trust for project costs, and can receive ongoing income by enrolling in our Wild Carbon program.

The Partnership serves two critical purposes:

  • To meet the goal set forth by Harvard Forest’s Wildlands & Woodlands initiative to conserve at least 10% (3 million acres) of New England’s forestland as wilderness by 2060. The Wildlands Partnership unites accredited land trusts to conserve wild landscapes across the region, including New York. With just 3–4% of the Northeast currently protected as wilderness, the time to act, together, is now.
  • To respond directly to the urgent need for natural climate solutions, as put forth by the IPCC and the IPBES. Wildlands are remarkably effective at absorbing and storing carbon, while also offering species resilient, connected habitats as the climate rapidly changes. In conjunction with protecting well-managed woodlands, the pace of wilderness conservation must accelerate to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

“The clock is ticking. Scalable natural climate solutions are urgently needed to combat the worst of climate change. What Northeast Wilderness Trust is attempting with the Wildlands Partnership is a science-based approach to increase the carbon sequestration of the Northeast’s forest.”

Bill McKibben, Author & 350.org Co-founder

Why wilderness?

Wild nature has intrinsic value and deserves to exist for its own sake. In addition, forever-wild conservation is among the most cost-efficient and immediate actions we can take to confront rapid climate change and mass species loss. Recent studies confirm the incredible ability of old, wild forests to absorb carbon. Scientists have reported the importance of allowing forests to mature—a process called “Proforestation.” These forests are better at storing carbon than any technology, and aren’t powered by fossil fuels! (As Bill McKibben says, “Also, they’re beautiful.”) Unmanaged forests offer additional benefits: preventing extinction, allowing life to evolve alongside a changing climate, and connecting wildlife corridors for far-ranging species.

The window is narrowing, and the land trust community must act quickly while we still can. Every forest we protect as wilderness today will become an old-growth forest of tomorrow. The Wildlands Partnership offers a streamlined, cost-effective way to make a difference for nature while doing what land trusts do best: saving places for future generations.

“Right now, we are ignoring natural climate solutions…We need to protect, restore, and fund.”

Greta Thunberg, climate activist
Photo by Shelby Perry

How it works

1. Northeast Wilderness Trust will work with your accredited organization to identify potential forever-wild land. There are two approaches to permanently protect a forever-wild property:

  • For land you own, or would like to own, Northeast Wilderness Trust will hold a forever-wild conservation easement on the property. In certain cases, the Wilderness Trust may contribute to a bargain-sale or help lead a fundraising campaign so that your land trust can acquire a new, forever-wild property.
  • For land on which you would like to hold a forever-wild easement, Northeast Wilderness Trust will lend our expertise to help you craft a forever-wild easement. Your land trust will be the primary easement holder, and the Wilderness Trust will hold an executory (back-up enforcement) interest.

2. Northeast Wilderness Trust will prioritize Wildlands Partnership conservation projects using our standard Land Protection Criteria: size, resiliency, context, and geographic diversity.

3. An MOU between both parties will outline all details of the Partnership and provide transparency for the process. Wilderness Trust staff will be available to present to your board of directors and staff.

4. Through Northeast Wilderness Trust’s Wild Carbon program, your land trust can generate carbon credits and earn revenue over 20 years.

5. Northeast Wilderness Trust will fund your organization’s staff time, stewardship endowment contribute, transactional costs, and legal fees associated with any Wildlands Partnership project.

Photo by Shelby Perry

Partner benefits

Financial support for your organizations

Northeast Wilderness Trust will contribute to your forever-wild conservation project, including:

  • Due diligence and acquisition costs
  • Compensation for staff time
  • Stewardship endowment

Wildlands Partners may enroll properties in the carbon market upon conserving them as forever-wild.

  • Properties that would otherwise be too small to be eligible for carbon markets will be grouped with other wildlands through Northeast Wilderness Trust’s Wild Carbon program.
  • Land trusts will receive reliable periodic income, without needing to devote any time or capacity to building a carbon market program themselves.
  • Northeast Wilderness Trust will cover the full
  • cost of the required timber cruise.

Technical assistance and outreach

As the only regional land trust focused exclusively on wilderness conservation, Northeast Wilderness Trust will be a resource for Wildlands Partners. Northeast Wilderness Trust will be on call to offer technical assistance and guidance as your land trust navigates wilderness protection.

Upon completing your forever-wild conservation project, Northeast Wilderness Trust will celebrate your success by:

  • Collaboratively crafting a press release for local and regional news outlets;
  • Sharing your story through digital and print media;
  • Hosting a celebratory event and recognizing major donors, when relevant.

Questions? Contact Sophie Ehrhardt at or 802.224.1000.

Our Privacy Policy

The Northeast Wilderness Trust respects the privacy of its supporters and visitors to this website. The Trust does not sell, share, or rent information provided to us through this website or via email, phone, or postal service. You can have complete confidence that any personal information you share with us will be strictly protected in perpetuity—like the landscapes we work to protect.